In a plug for the fourth estate (the media), from the fifth estate (the planet; all of us), and actually about both, China Dialogue this week noted the rise of environmental journalism and its growing impact in China.

At a time when the state has decided to tackle pollution, “we have entered a golden age for environmental journalism”,  the website says.

The article was to celebrate the most recent China Environmental Press Awards held on 14 July and established jointly by China Dialogue and The Guardian in 2010.

“The influence of China’s traditional media has waned in recent years, with journalists losing passion for their profession. But China’s environmental writers have bucked this trend,” the report says.

Chen Jie, for instance, a photojournalist who last year resigned as photo editor with the Beijing News, completed a series of seven pieces on the environment, one of which generated government action to clean up pollution in the Tengger desert.

His “Death of the Desert” piece prompted Chinese president Xi Jinping to initiate an investigation that resulted in “dozens of officials in Inner Mongolia losing their jobs or being punished”.

The work of another young journalist Kong Lingyu resulted in the banning of evaporation pits used to make company emissions appear legal.

 The appointment of Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang as president and premier respectively has led to China intensifying efforts to clean up pollution, with more active policies now in place on air and water pollution.

At the start of the year a new and tougher-than-ever revision of the Environmental Protection Law came into force, with environmental authorities handed stronger powers.

There has also been more progress on emissions and dealing with climate change. Thousands of polluting factories around the country have been shut down – despite the impact on economic growth and the tens of thousands of job losses.

With environmental issues taken more seriously than ever before, much quality environmental reporting started not just to bloom but also bear fruit, by bringing about solutions.

In a range of reporting techniques recognised in the awards, the audience “did not just read about climate change – they saw it, they heard it, and they felt it.

“Climate change stopped being a theoretical issue and became vivid: a story of people and their pain and their fate, told with images, with sounds, with flavour and warmth.”

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